WHY SHOULD THE FC250 WIN THE SHOOTOUT?
The 2017 Husqvarna FC250 is the horsepower king of 2017. It actually makes
more peak power than its KTM brother. And, the way the Husky makes its power
is mellower, slower-revving and more Novice-friendly than the orange bike. Every
MXA test rider feels that the Husqvarna FC250 is more comfortable, absorbent
and pleasant to race than the KTM 250SXF. Why? The three-piece plastic subframe
feeds flex into the chassis and lessens harsh feedback to the rider. The addition
of the WP AER air forks turned the fortunes of KTM and Husqvarna around. More
accurately, they turned them from also-rans into shootout winners.
WHY SHOULD THE FC250 LOSE THE SHOOTOUT?
Thanks to its restrictive plastic airbox, the FC250 has a muted throttle response
and slower rev than the class-winning 2017 KTM 250SXF. While the Husky makes
more horsepower than the KTM, it takes longer to get there. On an engine that
requires you to get to 14,000 rpm to achieve peak power, the delayed reaction
makes it feel quite different. The truth of the KTM and Husqvarna pairing is that
if one wins, the other has to finish a hair’s breadth behind it, because they are
clones. In this case, the Husqvarna FC250 loses to the KTM 250SXF because it
revs a little slower and weighs 2 pounds more, but beats all of the Japanese 250Fs
because it is lighter, makes 44. 38 horsepower, and has electric starting, a bulletproof clutch, great handling and awesome brakes.
WHAT’S NEW ON THE 2017 HUSQVARNA FC250?
The Husqvarna list mimics the KTM 250SXF list. WP AER front forks replace
last year’s WP 4CS forks. The shock spring rate has been reduced from 45 N/m to
42 N/m. There is a new electronic map switch that controls maps, launch control
and traction control. The rear brake pedal is 10mm longer. The top triple clamp is
more rigid, and the top bar mount is one piece.
WHAT DOES THE FC250 WEIGH?
220 pounds. You might be thinking, “If the Husqvarna is a clone of the KTM,
why does it weigh 2 pounds more?” The answer lies in the molded plastic airbox,
beefier swingarm and proprietary plastic design.
HOW DOES THE FC250 RATE IN THE MAJOR CATEGORIES?
Power output: Excellent. The FC250’s power is broad and ultra-usable by
skilled riders. Since it revs slower than the KTM, it felt more manageable for less
Suspension: Excellent. WP’s AER air forks are ingenious in their simplicity.
They have an air cartridge, similar in concept to a bicycle pump, in the right fork
leg. There is only one Schrader valve on the AER forks, not three as on the SFF
TAC forks. Since the air takes the place of the two coil springs in the previous WP
4CS forks, the weight savings is 3. 6 pounds. All the damping is handled by the left
fork leg via one compression clicker and one rebound clicker (they don’t have four
different clickers like the Kayaba PSF- 2 forks). Setup is simple. Find the proper air
pressure for your speed and then click in your favorite compression and rebound
settings. You can race these forks right off the showroom floor, and you don’t need
an iTunes app to make sense of how they work. Good stuff.
Handling: Excellent. Every MXA test rider prefers the feel of the Husky over
the KTM even though the geometry is the same. There are two reasons the test
riders felt that the twins were different. (1) Husqvarna’s three-piece plastic airbox
is more resilient than KTM’s standard-issue aluminum tube structure. The flexier
feel of the plastic makes the Husqvarna feel plusher and softer when landing from
jumps or under heavy torsional loads in corners. ( 2) The Husky’s slightly mellower
power delivery, which develops over a longer time, has the effect of slowing down
reaction times for more overall control.
Brakes: Excellent. Pucker up. Brembo has refined the interplay between the
rotor, caliper and master cylinder to the nth degree.
Clutch: Excellent. Only the KTM and Husky have hydraulic clutches. They are
self-adjusting, so they are easier on the clutch plates. They have double or triple
the lifespan of a cable-operated clutch. The MXA test riders were split on whether
Husky’s Magura master cylinder was better than KTM’s Brembo unit.
WHAT DO WE HATE ON THE FC250?
The molded plastic airbox: This design is better suited to enduro bikes. A motocross bike doesn’t need a watertight and airtight airbox. We drill holes in it.
THE FINAL QUOTE?
“The 2017 Husqvarna FC250 makes a stunning 44. 38 horsepower at peak, the
Husqvarna FC250 is basically for people who don’t like orange.”